The startup roller coaster

I woke up at 5am this morning in a cold sweat, after a nightmare so bizarre I had to write it down. I pulled out my iPhone and described it in an email to myself. Here’s what I wrote:

‘Boyfriend trying to kill me. Escaped and called AJ who said he’d help. Tried to get to AJ’s house but had to cross a massive lake to reach the door. Lake is full of snakes and crocodiles all coming for me. And a diseased chimpanzee in a yellow raincoat is chasing and trying to bite me. Finally make it to the door. An Asian girl answers, warning me not to come in cause a ghost has hypnotized everyone inside.’

I couldn’t sleep after that. After an hour of trying, I got up to analyse: why would I be having such a messed up dream? Where in my real life do terrifying obstacles constantly attack me from all sides, each more scary than the last, each more certain to deliver a sudden, painful death.

That’s when I remembered. I run a start-up.

Two years ago, I ran a successful music management company. I represented some of Australia’s top talent, spent my days sauntering around backstage at music festivals travelling around the world with rock and roll bands. I’d built a loving family of staff and artists and we were enjoying success in many countries. I had it sweet.

Then I was cursed with an idea. I suppose that was the bug. The way we were marketing music events was wrong. We spent thousands on posters and press ads that no one paid attention to. But we stuck with it because no one had come up with anything better. I came up with the idea of

It hit me that I could turn this idea into a website and change the way an industry worked. I’ll never forget that moment. I was in my flat at Bondi Beach on a Sunday afternoon. As soon as the thought hit me, more ideas flowed like an avalanche. I called one of my best friends, booking agent Brett Murrihy, and told him about it. Now, Brett is one sceptical guy but he immediately jumped onboard. He used the word ‘genius’ and ‘I love it’ in the same sentence and we agreed to meet the next day to start planning. I was hooked and my ‘sweet’ life was over.

What followed – the next two years until now – I think of as a long hike through mountains in the pouring rain. Challenging, treacherous, scary, intimidating, incredibly hard work and miserable most of the time. Yet, when I look back on them, for some reason it all seems so much fun!

A start-up is a roller-coaster, with twists, turns and massive drops followed by massive highs that you can’t see coming. Every drop feels like the end: inescapable and certain doom. And every high feels like in only a couple of years you’ll be knocking on the door Mark Zuckerberg once opened, or another very like it.

In this blog, I’ll share our ups and downs. Maybe we’ll learn stuff along the way. It’s exciting to create products that no one has thought of before. I love being a part of the start-up scene in Sydney and hope that by reading this blog, others can learn from our dips, twists and turns. Then we can all create better products and live in a more interesting world.

The exciting, scary thing is that our roller-coaster ride is just begun. We haven’t laid the track yet, so we don’t know if our ride ends in champagne or concrete. Everything is new and uncharted. We’re strapped in and there’s no way out mid-ride alive!


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